2024 Guide to Managing Remote Teams

Written by Coursera • Updated on

As work-from-home and remote work options have evolved since the global pandemic, so have the best practices for managing remote teams. Learn why the demand for remote work remains high and how to increase productivity and morale on your team.

[Featured image] Woman working at home during online meeting

In 2022, 58 percent of workers in the United States reported having the option to work remotely at least one day per week [1]. Additionally, 35 percent reported they had the option to work from home five days per week, and 87 percent of workers given the opportunity for remote work said they take their employers up on it [1]. 

These statistics demonstrate Americans’ willingness to embrace remote work. The high demand for remote work options will make it more necessary for companies to offer them to attract highly qualified candidates. Yet, it’s clear that managing a remote team presents different benefits and challenges, which may be why so many company leaders have been pleading with their staff to return to the office. Managers and other leaders who can successfully adapt to remote work guidelines will have an advantage in retaining talent, boosting productivity and employee morale, and lowering costs. 

Why remote work demand remains high

According to a 2021 FlexJobs Survey, the two biggest reasons employees want remote work options are to manage their work-life balance better and improve their mental health [2]. Other reasons participants selected included experiencing less commute-related stress and having more time with their families. Additionally, these reasons are so important to employees that 24 percent of respondents signaled they would take a pay cut between 10 and 20 percent in order to gain remote work options [2]. 

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Why remote work benefits companies

Successfully juggling the demands of managing a remote team can provide a variety of benefits for your company. For example, remote work allows you to recruit top talent and increase your talent pool. Not only will you be a more attractive company for potential employees, but you’ll have access to skilled professionals worldwide. Your company can also save money on overhead with remote work by reducing energy costs or potentially reducing the office space your company manages. 

One potential benefit that remains up for debate is whether remote work leads to a more productive staff. Even well before the pandemic, studies suggested that workers might be more productive at home. New research may contradict older work, suggesting workers need to be at the office for the best productivity. Although the results of this research may be muddy, the resulting dynamic between managers and their employees is clear: employees tend to believe remote work is more productive, and leaders often believe in-office work is more productive. 

Managing remote teams poses different challenges than managing an in-office team. You can minimize these challenges and maximize your productivity with the tips below.

Tips for better remote team management 

Some common challenges of managing remote teams include the loss of direct supervision and collaboration with co-workers, feelings of isolation, breakdowns in communication, and the fatigue associated with sitting in front of a video-conferencing screen all day. Using these tips may improve your remote team management skills and strategies, helping you better manage the challenges. 

Clearly define how and when you will communicate.

By establishing a clear understanding of when and how to communicate, you will help avoid disruptions in communication. In an office setting, a lot of communication happens informally, such as when you bump into a person in the break room or happen to walk past their desk and remember to ask them a question. With a remote team, you’ll need to set team-wide expectations to minimize problems. For example, you may ask your employees to spend the last half hour of their day answering emails to ensure they answer any questions before the end of the day, or you could request that everyone is present for a virtual or in-person morning stand-up meeting. 

Choose communication channels carefully. 

You have many choices regarding communication channels your team will use, such as email, video conferencing, messaging apps, workflow apps, or apps where multiple people can collaborate on documents. All these tools can quickly overwhelm your employees and fill their work hours with inefficient communication. Streamline the methods to talk with your staff to just a few tools with a more significant impact. Doing so will help your team spend less time bogged down in managing their apps and more time working on something more productive. 

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Regularly check-in with employees. 

Whether through a daily morning meeting or regular one-on-one, it’s essential to check in regularly with your team to stay on the same page, get ahead of issues, and watch for signs of burnout or other distress. 

A daily meeting can also help you manage expectations for communication because your team will have a predictable moment to ask questions and report problems. You can also use daily meetings to gain a sense of authentic connection among your staff. On the other hand, one-on-one meetings are also an excellent way for you to connect with your team. In a more personal setting, you and your team may feel more open to discussing career growth and opportunities for professional development. 

Be inclusive and consider others' schedules.

Having employees working in various time zones can be both an advantage and a disadvantage when managing remote teams. From your employee’s point of view, having more control over when and where they complete their work is an advantage of remote work. For you as an employer, remote work allows you the chance to work with a bigger talent pool over multiple time zones. The more you can structure your work and communication inclusively, the more you can take advantage of these benefits. 

Trust your team. 

When you don’t see your team completing their work, believing it’s getting done can be difficult. It’s important to stay connected with your team and lead them to the best outcomes, but if you check in with your team too often, they might believe you do not trust them to complete their work. Reinforce your confidence in your team by giving them the space to complete their work and trusting them until they give you a reason not to. 

Learn more with Coursera

If you’d like to learn more about the best ways to manage a remote team effectively, consider an online course with Coursera. In How to Manage a Remote Team, offered by GitLab, you can learn skills in business strategy, leadership and management, remote work, human resources, and more. This intermediate-level course takes approximately 10 hours to complete on your own flexible schedule. 

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Article sources


McKinsey. “Americans are embracing flexible work— and they want more of it.” Accessed September 12, 2023. 

Written by Coursera • Updated on

This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.